Chapter Fifty Nine- Finale…
The Black Mountain…
Hwang Chul appeared, landing on the black soil and regaining his balance almost at once.
He looked around.
“Ha.” He scoffed. “So you brought me back here? Do you really think you can defeat me, wielding that useless sword?”
He turned to face Tae Jun, who stood a good distance behind him.
Tae Jun replied.
“You are comfortable with the fact that the blood of your father, which was originally used to create this weapon, has long faded away.”
He stepped to his side and they began to circle each other.
“However, you have forgotten that you are currently possessing a human. A human who foolishly betrayed his own blood daughter.” He briefly remembered his meeting with Sang Hye Su. “She willingly gave her blood to retaliate. This sword can destroy you.”
“Silence!” Hwang Chul charged at him, appearing right behind him.
He slashed at him, but Tae Jun blocked him.
The impact of their two swords uprooted the trees closest to them, and the ground rumbled.
The two fought furiously, a blur of black and white.
Hwang Chul still clad in Sang Yoo Jin’s white sleeping hanbok, and Tae Jun clad in the black yungbok.
The landscape around them was barely recognizable, as each clash of their swords left a huge ripple of destruction.
Hwang Chul easily had the upper hand.
Tae Jun was defending more than he could attack.
Still, Hwang Chul burned with anger.
Why could this deity block his attacks so easily?
He was the first deity! Made even stronger with dark magic.
He should be more powerful!
He poured even more strength into his attacks, his sword slicing powerfully through the air.
Tae Jun blocked successfully, but his sword was flung out of his hand.
The mere impact of the hit sent a tremor through his whole arm.
He turned to find his sword, and barely appeared in time to catch it.
“What is it? Are you running out of strength already?At least, Chin Suh fought me for days!”
Hwang Chul taunted, appearing before him and slashing harder.
Tae Jun blocked him shakily, forcefully ignoring his taunts.
He had to do something he had never really had to do in a battle…
He was thinking.
If he continued like this, he would lose this battle…
Their friends at the Palace were largely outnumbered…
Choi Chun Hwa, Sang Hye Yeon, Kim Da Yeong-. He blinked.
They would all die if he lost this battle…
Then, for some reason, he heard his own reply to his father’s question:
“…I should accept the possibility of losing, and embrace any opportunity to defeat him…”
He paused in surprise, then he heard Joo Chung Jae’s message from his father:
“…Blue bird is a valuable asset. Keep him close…”
He blocked Hwang Chul’s next attack, while he considered the two statements.
They were related.
“…any opportunity to defeat him…”
Wasn’t he doing it again? Depending solely on his powers and fighting like a deity?
He vanished, appearing in the armory.
The place where they had recently been planning their attack.
Predictably, Hwang Chul followed him, attacking the second he appeared.
But Tae Jun was prepared.
He put aside the way he fought as a deity.
Hwang Chul, who was the origin of those powers, would expect those methods.
He concentrated on being who he was, before he regained his memories as a deity…
Hwang Chul attacked, slashing at Tae Jun, but stepped back hastily as his own leg had been slashed by his own sword.
“What is this?” He stared confused at the bleeding wound.
On the other side of the room, Tae Jun picked a small dagger, holding it in his left hand, the sword in his right.
“Jeosonghamnida. That was a move I invented to teach a friend. I simply used your own strength against you.” He inched forward.
“I’m going to fight you as a human. Every sly method I once used to fight, I will use it again.”
He charged at Hwang Chul, their swords clashing powerfully.
Then he suddenly stopped using his strength at all.
Taking by surprise by the sudden lack of opposing force, Hwang Chul’s attack pushed him off balance.
Tae Jun’s sword slid cleanly beneath Hwang Chul’s sword. Tae Jun planted the dagger deep into Hwang Chul’s side, distracting him even further.
Hwang Chul staggered, but turned immediately, slashing blindly at Tae Jun.
But Tae Jun had started using his powers again.
He was behind Hwang Chul in an instant, sword at the ready…
Bad memory after bad memory flashed through his mind in that split second.
The death of the deities in the past…
The death of his mother, eleven years ago…
All the near deaths…
The reason for the four gates…
All the human sacrifices and suffering…
The current battle in the Palace…
All tied to the two enemies he was about to kill…
Tae Jun plunged the sword into Hwang Chul’s heart, without further hesitation.
He twisted the blade, making sure he had killed his enemy.
“Nooooo!” Hwang Chul slashed furiously at him, but Tae Jun ignored the searing pain, holding his ground.
“There were a few things I discussed with Chin Suh.” He twisted the blade again, Hwang Chul still slashing at him, writhing and screaming.
Tae Jun continued.
“At the moment he stabbed you, he removed the sword almost at once, assuming you would die.” He twisted the blade again, this time, stabbing it deeply into the ground, pinning Hwang Chul with it.
He vanished, appearing a slight distance away.
Hwang Chul clawed desperately at the sword, trying to bring it out.
But the hilt was behind him, and each time he touched the blade, he was burned.
He collapsed, blood spewing from his mouth.
“How- how did- – you know?” He choked out.
Tae Jun looked at him in disgust.
“It was an experiment. After listening to the details of Chin Suh’s battle, I realized it would be smart to leave the sword in your heart until you disappear. So you won’t crawl off somewhere and hide for centuries again.”
“Hmmm. Defeated by someone like you. I will claw my way out of the underworld if I have to, but I must pay you back for this…..!” He sputtered as his body began to disintegrate.
Hwang Chul, first deity of Eondoeg Mun, finally faded away, breaking into a thousand particles of black ash.
When he was sure Hwang Chul was gone, Tae Jun collapsed, his numerous injuries finally setting in.
He felt himself drifting away from life.
“Ah. If only I could see her one last time…”
His last thought was wishing Da Yeong and the others, would wake up even if he died…
The sound was unending and annoying…
Tae Jun opened his eyes, wondering who was disturbing his peace.
He blinked several times, at the sudden bright light flooding his eyes.
There was the sudden swish of a fan opening.
“You are awake.” A calm voice said, and he jumped up suddenly, but was forced to his knees immediately, by armed men clad in gold and white robes.
He looked up at the golden curtain before him, then noticed Chin Suh knelt beside him.
The dripping appeared to be coming from two bowls in front of him.
Liquid from no apparent source, was steadily dripping into the bowls!
“Ah. This must be Wang Shin, right?” He asked Chin Suh, and one of the guards placed a sword at his throat.
“No body speaks out of turn in my presence.” He raised a hand and the guard stepped away. “However, since you are a human, you didn’t know any better. You have done well in defeating Hwang Chul. You obviously have something to say.”
Tae Jun thought of the most pressing thing on his mind.
“Hwang Chul said he would crawl out of hell… He is an extremely powerful being. Is this possible?”
“Hwang Chul’s powers cannot be compared to the deity of the underworld… He has escaped death for centuries. The deity of the underworld has been waiting for him… He is not going anywhere.”
“Instead, I assumed you would ask for a reward. ‘Grant me a wish…’ All humans seem to say this, every time I grant audience.”
Again, Tae Jun thought about everything, then bowed, giving his answer.
“I do have a wish, but humans asking for miracles was what caused everything in the first place. If I deserve the blessing of the heavens, then the heavens will grant me that blessing, even if I don’t ask for it.”
“Ah… Simple human wisdom. You made a wise decision. As the leader of the deities, you will decide your fates.”
“There are two bowls before you. Drink the first bowl, if you wish to be reborn as a deity. Everything would be back to normal. There will be no gates for you to watch. You will bless the land again.”
“However, drink the second bowl, and you will all return as mere humans. The deities will cease to exist. No body will remember your heroic efforts. Then, make your choice.”
Tae Jun stared at the two bowls, then, without hesitation, he made his choice…
The Central Palace, Eondeog Mun…
Jang Tae Yong was back on the throne of Eondoeg Mun. He watched, unmoved, as noble after noble was dragged out to be executed.
Thanks to Lord Choi, it had been easy to identify those who had been plotting with Sang Yoo Jin, the traitor who had coveted the throne of Eondoeg Mun.
Luckily, after the death of Sang Yoo Jin, the Head of Military had arrived in the Palace and stopped the fighting with the full military.
Shortly after, Taesangwang Jeonha had returned and reclaimed the throne, so there would be ‘stability’ in the Kingdom.
And so, Jang Tae Yong watched with a hardened heart, as the enemies of the Kingdom were executed in groups of three…
“Cha Byeong Su! Lee Seung Mi! Gong Shin!” The three next nobles were called out, and they were dragged to the hangman’ s noose in their white hanboks…
The Nam Guk temple…
Eun Bi carried the tray to the back rooms of the temple. She knocked twice, then slid the doors opened.
It was a richly furnished room. The King had asked her mother to follow him to the Capital, but she had declined, choosing to spend her days here.
Still, the King had ordered that she be treated like a queen, with the temple being directly funded from the Capital.
“Omma, are you awake?” Eun Bi dropped the tray beside her mother’s bed.
“Eun Bi-ah.” Pal Wol opened her sightless eyes, reaching for the tray.
Eun Bi placed the cup of hot tea in her hand, and she drank deeply.
Considering the past events, she was counting her blessings.
She had thought she would die, but somehow, she had been saved, losing only her powers and her sight.
That she could be here with her daughter, was truly one of life’s blessings…
Lord Kim’s Training Grounds, Nam Guk…
Lord Kim Dae Hyeon sat with Lord Choi Yung Seon and Lord Sang Yoo Min, the three simply reclining, drinking and catching up with the times…
“So, Jang Tae Min was pardoned, but has been deposed as a Prince?” Lord Sang asked.
“Ye.” Lord Kim replied. “He and his wife are allowed back in the Capital. After that immense betrayal, he is not interested in the throne anymore.” All three of them laughed at this, before continuing.
“And you accepted that fellow, Joo Chung Jae, to join your ranks?”
“Ye. It was a decision made by Jeonha. He wants me to keep an eye on him. Although, he has learned his lesson, so I don’t think he will be any trouble.” They looked out across the training grounds, where Joo Chung Jae dueled with Lee Ju Won…
Lord Sang Yoo Min’s residence, later that day…
Hye Yeon and Min So Yeon knelt before her parents. Her mother’s eyes were shooting sparks of anger.
“Mueo?!” She stood up and paced before the two of them. “You want to marry a guard. “Aigoo, aigoo, aigoo… I must have betrayed a kingdom in my past life.”
She turned and started beating Hye Yeon.
“Why have you been a problem from day one?! What happened to other noble suitors?!”
“Omoni!” So Yeon interrupted, and she turned glaring eyes at him. He wilted, putting his palms together. “P- please beat me instead.”
“Omo, omo omo omo. Omoni?!” She placed a hand on her forehead, like she was going to faint. “How dare you address me as-. Are they doing this to annoy me?”
“Yobo!” Her father finally interrupted. “Please sit down.”
“Suhbang Nim!” She protested, turning to face him.
“Sit!” He pointed beside him. She seemed like she would refuse at first, but seeing the look on his face, she siddled over to gingerly sit beside him.
He looked at the two children before him, then faced Min So Yeon.
“You may not be from an official noble family, but your family have served the Royal family for generations-.” His wife interrupted.
“Ye. So now, our grandchildren will work as nothing but servan-.” She caught his look and fell silent.
“Ahem. As I understand it, your father trained you, your cousin and Daegun. All outstanding swordsmen.”
“Oho! If you were going to risk calling my wife ‘Omoni’, then why aren’t you calling me ‘Abeonim’?”
“Jeo- Jeosonghamnida, Abeonim.”
“Ah, ye. Since your family have such a powerful line of warriors, at least, our Hye Yeon will be safe.”
So Yeon bowed lower.
“Ye, Abeonim. I won’t allow any harm come to her.”
“Good good. This is good enough for us, although…” He opened a scroll. “I’m certain you haven’t seen this, but Daegun requested her hand on your behalf.”
“Daegun?” Her mother asked, wide-eyed. She was suddenly much calmer.
“Ye.” Her father feigned disinterest. “It says here, due to special services to the throne, the Min family have achieved ‘High Noble’ status and-”
“Omo! Why didn’t you say that earlier?!” She yelled at her husband.
She faced Min So Yeon at once, who had turned an interesting shade of red.
Beside him, Hye Yeon was preventing herself from jumping up and dancing.
“Son-in-law!” Her mother addressed shamelessly. “You understand that everything parents do is out of worry for one’s children. Don’t take anything to heart, okay?”
“Y- ye, Omoni.”
“Ah, yes! Exactly like that. You can call me Omoni.”
“Yobo, before you explode with joy, thanks to Hye Yeon, we are ‘High Noble’ status again…”
“Omo! I knew it! I saved a Kingdom in my past life! Why else will I have such a wonderful daughter!…”
The Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
“So what does it feel like, being the Head of all scholars in Eondeog Mun? You are the youngest in history, right?” Tae Jun asked Chun Hwa. The two strolled leisurely away from the Palace pagoda.
“Wae? Are you envious that I surpass you as a scholar?”
“Only if you’re envious that I surpass you as a warrior, and that I’m the Crown Prince again.” He replied, grinning.
“Eish, you’ve learnt how to reply that one.”
Ye. I’ve been hanging around the deity of knowledge.”
They both laughed, then.
“Orabeoni!!!” A loud screech pierced the silence, and they looked up to see Da Yeong running in their direction, a group of frustrated palace maidens, following behind her.
“Ah. She found you again. How many times has it been today? The fifth time.” Chun Hwa teased. “So this is what marriage feels like, and you aren’t even married yet!”
“Aigoo. I should definitely go on a mission outside the Capital, right?”
Da Yeong had been placed in the Side Palace until their wedding, which was three weeks away.
Since she entered the Palace, she had made it her sole duty to hang around him, every minute of every day…
Since she had even trained as a soldier, the Palace maidens assigned to her were no match for her, and she dragged them around the Palace easily.
“Do you still think the second bowl was the right choice?” Chun Hwa teased.
He was the only one Tae Jun had told about the meeting with Wang Shin.
The others just assumed that they miraculously awoke as humans.
Chin Suh had followed Wang Shin back to the Heavens.
Everything had ended, but no one, not even the King, remembered they had been deities.
But for some reason, the King knew they had helped to eliminate a great evil…
“If you had chosen the first bowl, you would have been safe on the Foggy Mountain..” Chun Hwa further poked fun at him.
“Safe from her? Maybe in the past, but now? Ani. She would have been appearing on the Black Mountain every single day…”
“Hahaha! Please go to your wife.” He mock bowed.
“Aish, I’ll be there to tease you when you’re getting married.”
He turned to Da Yeong with a smile on his face.
He might not like giving up his freedom, but compared to living without her, he would face his fate with open arms.
“Aigoo, did ‘Bingung’ look for me?” He teased, and she ran into his arms, without any care for being improper.
All the servants looked away.
He leaned down and kissed her and she smiled.
Then she frowned, when she heard all the whispers…
“Omo! Seja Jeoha is like the sun!”
“Omo! He is so handsome!”
She stamped her foot.
“Aish, Jinjja! I can hear everything!” They turned away, falling silent, and he laughed, leading her away…